The Cognitive Psychology of Planning

The Cognitive Psychology of Planning

The Cognitive Psychology of Planning

The Cognitive Psychology of Planning

Synopsis

The Cognitive Psychology of Planning assesses recent advances in the scientific study of the cognitive processes involved in formulating, evaluating and selecting a sequence of thoughts and actions to achieve a goal. Approaches discussed range from those which look at planning in terms of problem-solving behaviour to those which look at how we control thoughts and actions within the frameworks of attention, working memory or executive function. Topics covered include: simple to complex tasks, well- and ill-defined problems and the effects of age and focal brain damage on planning. This survey of recent work in the cognitive psychology and cognitive neuropsychology of planning will be an invaluable resource for anyone studying or researching in the fields of thinking and reasoning, memory and attention.

Excerpt

The terms “plans” and “planning” can be used to refer to many different aspects of cognition and cognitive control in everyday life. One use of the term “plan” is to describe a procedure for achieving a particular goal or desired outcome. For example, when we ask a friend or colleague “So, what's the plan?” we are often hoping for a set of directions to guide our thoughts and actions. That is, we are hoping for directions on what to do and when to do it, and this in turn might tell us those things that are most important and those things to watch out for. Ideally, the plan that is shared should be complete (that is, the contents and their ordering satisfactorily accomplishes the goal), efficient (the component thoughts and actions should hopefully have been evaluated and optimized), and foolproof (the instructions should be easy to memorize, monitor and execute, with little chance of things going wrong). However, in everyday life, plans may still be useful without offering explicit guidance or instructions. A map of the London Underground or an architect's diagram detailing the layout of a house may also be properly referred to as plans, but they provide a representation or overview of a project or problem, rather than a set of directions. This type of plan refers to the appropriate organization of knowledge, and facilitates integration of the component parts of a problem, allows for mental simulation to generate and evaluate new ideas, and affords increased understanding to test and detect problems before they occur. That is, although these plans may themselves be . . .

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